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  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations

  • Founded in 1967.

  • The ASEAN headquarters is situated in Jakarta, Indonesia.

  • The Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.

  • ASEAN Members

    • Founding members - Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, 

    • Other members - Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Cambodia.

Objectives of ASEAN:

  • The prime objective of ASEAN is to induce the proactive engagement of the countries on the basis of cultural economic scientific administrative subjects. Other objectives of ASEAN include:

  • To maintain a strong bond and mutual relationship with the Global countries and territorial organizations.

  • To work together efficiently and enhance the use of the agriculture industry, expand commerce and transportation, and raise the quality of life of the citizens of the country.

  • To work in favour of fostering regional harmony and security through adherence to maintaining proper rules and regulations and confirming its UN charter ideals.

  • ASEAN also assists member countries in the field of education, administration, technical and professional domains.

Recently in news

  • The 56th Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) of the ASEAN the post-ministerial conferences and other related regional meetings, held in Jakarta, Indonesia in mid-July, 2023.


  • Creating a political community that ensures regional peace and a just, democratic and harmonious environment.

  • Creating an economic community focused on achieving a well-integrated and connected regional economy within the global economic system.

  • Creating socio-cultural community to enhance the quality of life of ASEAN’s citizens as well as sustainable development of the region.

  • ASEAN’s ability to manage regional and global dynamics depended on two critical ingredients that promote its unity and centrality.

  • First, it should maintain its credibility by adhering to the ASEAN Charter.

  • Second, it should stay in the driver’s seat while navigating regional dynamics.


  • ASEAN’s internal differences on issues such as Myanmar keep surfacing in public. 

  • Its desire to lead the region and shape its agenda stands jeopardised by the strained relationship between the U.S. and China.

  • China enjoys close political and economic relations with the ASEAN states, and at least three of them, i.e., Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, are its virtual dependencies. 

  • While the Philippines has become more assertive of late in its claims in the South China Sea, the central players, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, are all favourably disposed towards Beijing. 

  • This explains why none of them raises its voice against China’s delaying tactics in negotiating an enforceable code of conduct concerning the South China Sea. 

  • For many years, ASEAN and China have called for “an early conclusion of an effective and substantive” code of conduct; 

    • They did it this year too, but are content to leave the matter there. 

    • No indication of a timeline is given. 

  • ASEAN also watches helplessly the acrimonious debate between the U.S. and Chinese governments, despite Washington’s recent attempts to revive constructive discussions through high-level visits. 

  • Anxious over “the intensifying geopolitical tensions in the region,” ASEAN prefers to promote the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). 

  • Its four identified areas ( maritime cooperation, connectivity, UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and economic cooperation) make much sense to the region. 

  • Predictably though, despite ASEAN partners reaffirming support for the AOIP, its actual implementation remains a worry.

  • ASEAN reiterated its centrality, but it appears vulnerable when the grouping is unable to forge unity on a most sensitive issue, the Myanmar situation, which has led ASEAN to bar a member-state (Myanmar) from all its political-level discussions. 

  • In the run-up to the FMM, Thailand, defying ASEAN’s official policy, ran its own dialogue with the military government which permitted the Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to have a meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, much to the discomfiture of Indonesia, the ASEAN chair.

  • The split in ranks was acknowledged in the joint communiqué. 

  • This disunity could not be concealed by a routine reaffirmation of the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) forged in April 2021. 

  • Without unity, ASEAN centrality loses much of its credibility.

India’s role

  • India is not a permanent member of the ASEAN but joined as a dialogue partner in 1996. 

  • It is part of the ASEAN Plus Six group.

  • India pointedly referred to the importance of a “strong and unified” ASEAN in the emerging dynamic of the Indo-Pacific, and highlighted the convergence between the AOIP and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative. 

  • To build on the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and ASEAN, India suggested that the two sides work in “newer areas such as cyber, financial and maritime security domains.

  • Though it appeared that ASEAN did not make much progress, and no new ground was broken, its persistence with dialogue, internally and externally, prevents geopolitical temperatures from rising. 



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: ASEAN UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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